A reply to Snehal S (Updated)

Comrade Snehal S, formerly a leader of the Austin branch, posts on Facebook:

An open note to the “ISO Renewal Faction”: please check your facts. There are no “12 people” who have “been lost”…we know where they all are and only two of them have left the organization. This is at best irresponsible on your part, our political disagreements aside.

This is in response to the following from our platform document on the organizational crisis:

In Austin, the oldest Texas branch with the most cadre, about a dozen members have been lost in the last few months.

Here I’d like to briefly reply to Snehal, because his reaction typifies how many comrades delude themselves about the existence of a crisis in the ISO.

There is, of course, no question of members being lost geographically; rather they were lost as members. Of the twelve we say have been lost in Austin, two have formally left the organization. What of the other ten? Do they remain active members, participating in the life of the organization?

No. They are “on leave,” have “taken a step back,” etc. That is the fact that Snehal elides.

Now comrades may take leave for entirely legitimate reasons involving health, family, employment, and so on. But if ten people go “on leave” more or less simultaneously–at the same time as two others formally resign–then it is foolish to pretend as if the reason is not fundamentally political and indicative of a political crisis.

I don’t mean to single out the Austin branch. We experienced precisely the same phenomenon in Boston: a number of members went “on leave” around the same time–never to return. I suspect that this is happening almost everywhere; such indefinite/permanent “leave” is particularly utilized by burned-out cadre, who find it impossible to continue as ISO members but do not wish to sever their longstanding connection with the organization.

A wise leadership would see this all for what it is, speak about it openly, and urgently discuss what must be done. This is what the Renewal Faction is attempting to do. Unfortunately the leadership faction has chosen to close its eyes to our loss of membership–even though we fool no one but ourselves. Any moderately sophisticated ally or opponent or enemy can determine our true strength by observing our public activity: tablings, movement interventions, union work, campus presence, etc. These are all indices of our active membership–which, if we’re students of Lenin, is the only kind of membership in a revolutionary organization (barring exceptional circumstances).

Shaun J (Boston)

Update: Snehal has published a reply to this piece here.

This is a Discussion article; it does not define faction policy and is not binding on members of the faction.

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4 thoughts on “A reply to Snehal S (Updated)

  1. An old friend in the antiwar movement remarks on Snehal’s reply: “I woke up this morning with 12 health problems that I didn’t have yesterday, two organs have stopped working and ten organs are sub-standard or failing, but they could all be unrelated issues and not indicative of any kind of serious health crisis. Post hoc ergo propter hoc is a fallacy. However, I went to the doctor and he said, guess what, you’re dying. So my response was, well, you can’t prove it, there are lots of other possible explanations other than your gloom and doom assessment. So the doctor said, you are free to believe what you want, but the fact is, you’re dying.”

  2. Shortly after Kshama Sawant, the Socialist candidate for Seattle City Council won, I attended yet another meeting of Austin ISO intending to propose that people run as socialist write-in candidates in the 2014 elections.

    I wasn’t even allowed to speak.

    Even letting me speak was voted down. We don’t do elections, I was told in effect.

    Even two people I had worked with failed to support the idea of letting me even speak, forget the election idea, just letting me speak, to get “on the stack”.

    It was like a cult, the 20-somethings lowered eyes and heads as they voted to refuse me time to speak “on the stack”, perhaps following telepathy or some other form of communication — maybe facial tics or hand signals from the two perhaps mid to loate thirty something de facto male leaders, who graciously let puppets actually preside over the meetings but who obviously run the show.

    Governmental bodies all over the area have at one time or another refused to let me speak over the decades. But the ISO Austin? Acting more Stalinist than Leninist? I thought democracy was a prereq for socialism. Guess I read wrong.

    I consider myself a radical independent contrarian free thinking anti-fascist kind of a guy and I may be socialist/Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist or not. I don’t know. I usually pick and choose as I damn well please and as I find to be intellectually congruent with scientific method and stuff.

    But pushing a 62-year old codger who holds a phd and has independent electoral experience and success, albeit modest, in the small fascist corporatist Texas town of San Marcos out and refusing him the opportunity to be “on the stack” and speak is a Real Growth Strategery, is it not?

    If one were to listen to the Austin ISO version of the White House spokespersons, one would think they were totally responsible for the entire Occupy Austin phenomenon and the occupation of the state Capitol in support of State Sen. Wendy Davis’ successful filibuster against the anti-abortion bill.

    Of course, no one else spontaneously showed up for Occupy Austin and Sen. Davis, of course, and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood (yes, Ann’s daughter), had nothing at all to do with massing thousands of people at the capitol to protest right wing fascist tea baggery. Nope, they had nothing to do with it at all. ISO-Austin did it all by themselves.

    ISO-Austin, however, is certainly not shy about taking credit for stuff it had little to do with.

    Also kind of defensive about things, they are.

  3. Pingback: An assessment of the Atlanta branch in light of the Renewal Faction documents | External Bulletin

  4. Pingback: An assessment of the Atlanta branch in light of the Renewal Faction documents | Red Atlanta

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